Ed McDonald, MD
- Teaching award recipient (2010)
- Received National Institute of Diabetes and Kidney and Digestive Diseases supplemental research grant
- Both him and his wife are Feinberg School of Medicine alums
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What are your clinical and research interests?
I am interested in GI, the pathogenesis of IBD and sporadic colon cancer specifically in the role of apoptosis within these disorders. My interests were shaped not only by my experience in the lab, but also by having an excellent mentor, Dr. Terrence Barrett. He serves as the consummate example of an academic physician and his mentorship has not only steered me towards GI, but also towards a career in academic medicine.
I am also interested in the health of underserved communities. During medical school and residency, working at Erie Family Health, a clinic dealing with predominantly Latino/Spanish speaking population on the West-side, and at Komed, a South-side clinic dealing with a mostly African American population, has given me a sincere appreciation for the impact of culture, ethnicity, language, and socioeconomics on health outcomes. Working with the uninsured and under-insured has given me significant exposure to the seemingly insurmountable obstacles people can face when trying to obtain health-care.
Tell us more about your background.
I was born in Chicago, but I spent most of my childhood in South Holland, IL which was a close knit community that offered a degree of safety that allowed parents to feel comfortable with their children exploring the neighborhood. Needless to say, neighborhood kids and I were running about every day until the street lights came on. That degree of freedom made growing up amazing, but South Holland was also a place where one could not be too mischievous because almost every adult knew you and your parents. For me, my childhood was a true reflection of the concept that “it takes a village to raise a child.”
I became deeply engrossed in clinical medicine, community health, and basic science research as an NU med student. Having clinical rotations at the Jesse Brown VA, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Evanston Hospital, and underserved clinics on Chicago’s South and West Sides gave me invaluable exposure to how the delivery of healthcare differs in various settings. Additionally, serving as an Albert Schweitzer Fellow and volunteering at Project Brotherhood, a local clinic focusing on the healthcare needs of Black men, illustrated the importance of community health and possible roles of a physician within underserved communities.
You worked with NU medical students multiple times now. What do you think is the most effective way to teach?
Effective teaching requires an environment conducive to learning, a conscious commitment towards teaching, and frequently requesting feedback as a teacher. Whenever I have a new group of students I try to create a stress free environment for them by emphasizing that my focus is on teaching and not just evaluation. I explicitly try to use evaluation as a form of teaching, not just for the sake of evaluation alone.
To outline realistic goals for teaching, I start by writing a list of organ systems on a board in our team room, with the intention of covering a couple of topics within a organ system per day. Each time we cover a topic, we'll write it on the board so we can always see how much ground we've covered. Seeing the list of topics on the board is a visible reminder of my conscious commitment towards teaching.
I oftentimes print out questions from Hopkins Modules and go over them with the students. Further, asking for feedback as the resident/teacher is critical, because the students should be able to express whether or not teaching is effective.
Where can we find Dr. McDonald after hours?
I spend most of my free time with my wife, Wendy, a busy ob-gyn resident; my 1 year-old son, Eddie; and my dog, Riley. Eddie is a busy little guy, so a lot of my free time is spent keeping him out of trouble, having fun with him, and changing diapers. Riley, a 140 lb bull-mastiff, is a big dog who sheds a lot and needs a lot of love. I'm a self proclaimed "foodie" so much of my time is spent in the kitchen trying out new recipes and kitchen gadgets. l have recently developed an passion for BBQ, so I at times sacrifice sleep to slowly smoke pork shoulders and other meats and dedicate time towards perfecting my BBQ rubs and sauces. Honestly, being in the kitchen isn't too dissimilar from being in the lab, you even have to clean dishes in both settings.
I created my own community health project when I was a medical student through the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. My project entailed training local spoken word poets as health educators with the intention of using performances as a tool for health education.